If your church is like most churches, you relied on the ability to gather face to face as your method to collect tithes and offerings. The pandemic eliminated this method almost overnight, leaving many pastors hanging. Other churches have multiple methods, yet still find it awkward to ask for online giving. The principles below are meant to encourage and equip you maximize giving during a suddenly difficult economic environment.
You are not alone in your struggle.
This is true on multiple levels. First, many industries were frozen over night. If people do not work, they cannot give. This is obvious, but you have to remind yourself of this every day. Almost all churches are in a similar boat. Second, that urge you have felt to be extremely conservative with your personal finances is the same experience of our nation and most of your congregation. Third, if you need personal help or resources, please visit the COVID-19 page at sbtexas.com. On the page you can find several weekly Zoom meetings you will be able to join. Get in on a Zoom and ask a question. Now is not the time to be bashful about asking your questions on how to navigate this challenge.
Share the “why” of giving.
This is one thing that has not changed. In fact, it is more important now than ever. Use phone calls, email, social media, text messages and other forms of communication to share about this great opportunity to reach the world for Jesus Christ online. When you share why giving is still important, you pull your congregation from the temptation to diminish giving. Stress and struggle can cause people to lose sight of the Great Commission. Bottom line: lead your people to give to the best of their ability.
Have honest conversations with your church leadership.
Many pastors feel stuck because changing giving methods is difficult. Others are scared or lack the skill to manage online giving. Also, many churches will go to great lengths to separate the pastor from the money. Be encouraged to get your financial committee or team together on a phone call or video chat. Ask them to enact an approved process as fast as possible. Be honest with them if you are the only one who can do the job. It is possible to temporarily amend your church giving processes with integrity if you will simply include others, be honest, transparent, clear and practical.
This will force churches into prioritizing the most important things.
It’s very difficult for church leaders when money is scarce. When finances are tight, it will often expose unfocused churches the fastest. This pandemic will direct you to choose only ministry and staff that are vital to gospel advancement. A wise leader will get a group of people together as soon as possible to rank a list of vital ministries and staff. This way you have thought about decisions before being neck-deep in them. Bonus thought for when this is over: Is it possible a slim focus is where you should have been all along anyway?
Do what it takes.
Your boldness and willingness will communicate just how much you believe your local church matters to your community. You may have to make a request of someone who has the ability to give sacrificially. You may have to try and pick up another job to help the church finances (and yours). It might be the only way you and the church make it through. While you need to be tactful, you need to be bold.